Title: Folktronica
Artist: Kurbeats
Release Date: 2013 Sept 29
Genre: Downtempo
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Release Label: Ektoplazm

One of the things that I got really, really excited by some years back was discovering that some electronic artists had explored, even excavating in other musical styles and traditions.  One of the more impressive artists I had the pleasure of listening to a lot was Banco de Gaia (aka Toby Marks).  I was particularly enthused by ‘Last Train to Lhasa’, Toby’s blending of electronica with Tibetan influences.  It was this recording that lead me to listen to many recordings from the Six Degrees label, at a time when I was just starting to recognize the importance of netlabels and the Creative Commons.

Since readjusting my listening habits to nearly exclusive CC / netlabel works I have heard a some recordings that mixed musical elements from different cultures into the music.  In fact, earlier this year, Ethnic Profound (by DubRajah) captivated me with the manner in which he built dub-styled tracks around African sources instead of layering the source material on top of a dub soundtrack.

Kurbeats has done something that really resembles more of the Toby Marks style of integrating a different culture into an electronica form.  But, in this case Kurbeats has taken to Scandinavian sources, recorded digitally by the artists themselves, and merged them with electronica forms.  In order to accomplish this, they used traditional Scandinavian instrumentation, but also focused on integrating Joik style into these pieces.  The Joik style of song is typically seen as an invocation or a person or place.  The use of Joik on ‘Folktronica’ serves to solidify the imagery that is being evoked through these songs.

Add to the idea of integrating very signification culture influences into this music with exceptionally high production values, and outstanding engineering work, and you have a release that isn’t just a step above many Netlabel releases, you have a release that is plain and simply beyond the majority of the commercial recording industry at this point.  And I don’t think I am overstating the beauty of this recording by making such statements.  This isn’t hyperbolic exaggeration, in my opinion.

I try not to give out too many top ratings for releases.  But this one deserves it.  It captured me from the opening few bars, and has been one of the first recordings that I put on when I need to listen to something lately.  In fact, it’s been somewhat of a distraction from the listening I’ve been doing for other reviews.  I feel like I have to write this review so I can remove this release from my playlist for a bit to focus on other releases.  Well, okay, it’s not really quite that bad, but I do find myself listening to it a lot.  And, that is a sure sign that it is a release that will stay with me for a long time.

And hopefully, that is a sign that this release will stay with you for a long time too.

Kurbeats: Folktronica

Free / Donation
10

Rating

10.0/10

Pros

  • Simply brilliant release
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Posted by George De Bruin

2 Comments

  1. “Since readjusting my listening habits to nearly exclusive CC / netlabel works..”

    That might explain your (another well written) positive review of this release which I downloaded and listened to after reading. Sadly, I did not enjoy it at all.
    I switched to Nils Petter Molvaer and Moritz von Oswald – 1/1 (2013, non CC) afterwards. What a relief!

    Comparing fruits here, I know 😉

    deeload

    1. Actually, the comparison was to many of the (non-CC) releases on the Six Degrees label. There has long been musicology based studies of may different styles of music. What is interesting to me is when an artist actually spends the time to understand these works to the level of a musicologists study, and then take that understanding and integrate it into newer forms.

      Given my former life as a music major in college, the application of academic level understandings of different cultures has always been musically interesting.

      It’s definitely a different area of music. And, there are detractors who criticize the idea of appropriating a piece of a culture for use in a different culture. I get that. But I also see it as examining a culture through a different perspective / framework — which I highly appreciate.

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